Book Clubs and Birthdays
I'm in a book club of my own, and I couldn't help but make some comparisons. Mary's club meets in the evening, and there's wine (everyone brings a bottle, and the hostess keeps the leftovers) and the hostess provides a simple dinner (good sandwiches and a pasta salad this time). Ours is a daytime group. We get a cookie, maybe.
And - novelty of novelties - they all read the SAME BOOK! Unlike my group. We all just report on whatever we happen to have read or be reading. Not to say that there aren't some interesting advantages to this, but, because of this difference, I had expected this group to be a little less superficial than ours. I'm not really sure that was the case. Maybe it was the wine? They went around the room (as we do) and gave everyone a chance to comment. In some cases this sparked further discussion, but not always. The talk was almost entirely about comparing "then" (1870's New York) to "now"; would Newland Archer have behaved differently today? How has society changed?
At the end, a birthday cake suddenly appeared. I was startled, since it was actually MY birthday and I didn't think anyone knew. But it turned out that it was also the birthday of one of the members. This other woman was turning seventy-seven - ten years older than I (though I will always be sixty-five where this blog is concerned) - and I had at first thought, from her looks, that she might be even YOUNGER than I! Increasingly (the closer I get) the seventies are not looking so fearful.
ADDED: Thanks to Nina and Annette for such thoughtful comments. My own read-what-you-want group, which functions, it seems, exactly like Annette's, may actually be the ideal model for a group of disparate, reasonably intelligent women, none of whom are trained literary critics. I learn about books that I might never have heard of, borrow the ones that sound appealing, and never feel pressured to read something I don't care about. There are certain books that we all seem to read, sooner or later, so that in a roundabout way those do ultimately get discussed in a little more depth.